Sunday, December 13, 2009

20th Century cottons

My recent poll showed a strong interest in cotton prints from the time period, 1900-1950. So tonight I would like to talk about Shaker Grays--1890-1940.

Their popularity began with the advent of a good synthetic black fabric dye. (The search had been on since the discovery of the first aniline dye, mauveine, in 1856) These prints, fine black lines and figures on a white ground--the black and white mixture appeared to be gray-- were known as Shaker Grays, a name derived from the practical dress goods of the Shaker community (woolens woven from their sheep--assorted shades of white and black), as well as Mourning and Half Mourning prints.

These were a serviceable type of print that did not show the soil. You could readily find them in the Sears catalog up until 1924/25. After that date there was a 'sea change' in the color palette of the cotton prints. In the 1926 catalog, the pastel prints, a small 'flutter' had been available in previous catalogs, were suddenly very popular. The selection of Shaker Gray style prints had been drastically reduced. They continued to sell through the 1930s.

These Shaker Grays are from a 1938 fabric sample book.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Double Pinks

Double Pinks usually refer to designs with two or more shades of pink, rose and red. I checked two references for dates. Textile Design gives 1860-1920 while Dating Fabrics,A Color Guide has 1850 to early 1900. I think I would extend those dates from the early 1800s to the 1950's. They have also been a favored reproduction designs of the late 20th century.

This is a page from my c. 1830 Dargate book with early double pinks.

This Double blue is from the Dargate book. Note the engraved background and then the overprinted leaf/vine. This is from the Dargate Prussian Blue line, 2006.
This Double Violet, also from the Dargate book, has the engraved background with the deeper violet overprint. This design was used in the Dargate Violets and Chocolates, 2005

This Double Violet is the header for Cottonopia and is from an 1863 sample book.

I often hear experts speak of a classic Double pink having a white dot. This could be acheived with the dischage method: the cloth was 'padded' with mordant, then a 'covering' cylinder with a different strength mordant, dried and overprinted with an acid paste. Once the goods were processed in a madder dye bath you had a solid looking packground (from the pad) with a viney design ( from covering cylinder) and a scattering of white dots ( from the acid paste). This production method was popular in the later part of the 19th century for not only pinks but also double purples, blues and some browns. It could produce complex designs often referred to in dyeing manuals as "3 reds" or "5 purples".

A classic Ely and Walker style double pink from the last third of the 19th century.
These are 3 Double Pinks from the Ely and Walker "Quaker Chintz Prints" from their 1948 sample book.

Dating Double Pinks can be tricky. It is a acquired skill. When looking at a dated quilt  observe the double pinks, noting the method used ( engraved background vs padded ) and the styling of thse much loved prints.